BAYOU CORNE, LA — Texas Brine officials say their contractors completed 85 out of 89 home inspections in Bayou Corne. The homes are owned by people who want to be bought out, but they did not hire a lawyer, yet.
"I figure I'd try and see what the would come up with if it was anything reasonable," Gerald Merritt, Bayou Corne homeowner, explained.
Merritt built his home in Bayou Corne so he could retire in peace, but now he's ready to leave. He's commuted between several homes across the area since he evacuated August 3. He says the sinkhole forced him to stay awake at night worrying about his home. He wants Texas Brine to buy him out. He hasn't gotten a lawyer. He waited two weeks for inspectors to check out the damage at his home. He thought he could move on to phase two: an appraisal. He said he hasn't heard anything from the company since his inspection.
"It's just always going to bother me if I have to leave here, because there is a lot of work that went in here a lot of blood sweat and tears," Merritt explained.
Merritt is not alone. Ernest Boudreaux, Jr., also wants his home bought out, but Boudreaux has a lawyer, so the process will take even longer.
"That's just something that a lot of the lawyers are waiting on what's going to happen what Texas Brine is going to offer people without the lawyers," Boudreaux stated. "So far you don't hear nothing about them offering no lawyers at all."
People living in Bayou Corne say they are willing to fight to get the money they deserve since the sinkhole destroyed their lives.
"I really want a fair enough price. If I have to leave I want it to be worth my while, because I've got to buy another home," Merritt exclaimed.
Boudreaux stated so far Texas Brine hasn't obeyed Governor Bobby Jindal's orders. He says the process was supposed to only take weeks. Now Boudreaux is worried it could take months.
"The way it's going it's probably going to go longer than a year. They are going to push it long as they can," Boudreaux said.
Merritt says he's only going to get a lawyer if the company doesn't play fair.
"I just don't think they will honestly sit down and make an individual person without an attorney a fair offer, but I am willing to give them a chance," Merritt stated.
Texas Brine officials say once the homes are appraised, the company has 30 to 45 days to make the owner an offer.
After that, the home owner has some time to consider if they want to take it or not. If they don't like the offer they can make an offer of their own. If that Texas Brine doesn't like that offer a mediator could be called to step in.
Clean up crews picked up debris on the edge of the 13 acre sinkhole Wednesday.
Texas Brine officials say workers are also moving forward on a levee around the sinkhole. Crews are adding special water proof fabric and harden clay to the top of the mounds.
3D seismic monitoring is finished. A company spokesmen tells us the next big step is to turn that data into state officials.
"It will give a very good clear image of what has happened and the shape of the dome," Sonny Cranch, Texas Brine spokesman, explained. "It may be able to give an idea of where the actual breech occurred."
The company has until April 21 to turn that data in.